News ID: 199848
Published: 0519 GMT September 03, 2017

The worst is yet to come for the NHS

The worst is yet to come for the NHS

The NHS in England may suffer its worst winter in recent history if it does not receive an emergency bailout, hospital chiefs are warning.

They said the cash is needed to pay for extra staff and beds because attempts to improve NHS finances have failed.

The government has given councils an extra £1 billion for social care services, to help relieve the pressure on hospitals, BBC reported.

But the latest figures show A&E waits and bed shortages remain ‘stubbornly’ bad, according to NHS Providers.

The group, which represents NHS chief executives, is calling for between £200 million and £350 million to be made available immediately.

The target to see most patients in A&E within four hours has been missed for two years now, while bed occupancy rates remain above recommended levels.

Over the summer, just over 90 percent of A&E patients were treated or admitted within four hours.

That was below the goal of 95 percent and was almost exactly the same percentage as last summer, which was then followed by the worst set of winter waiting times since the target was introduced in 2004.

Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, said: "Last winter the health service came under pressure as never before. This winter could be worse."

He acknowledge that planning had been much better this year but said that despite those efforts, and the extra money for care services, hospitals were still struggling to improve performance.

"We are in virtually the same position as this time last year," he said.

"Unless we get extra money, patients will be put at greater risk as local trusts won't have the beds and staff they need to meet the extra demand we will face."

Hopson said feedback from his members showed that delays in discharging patients, and workforce shortages, were hampering their efforts.

He pointed out that the NHS budget had increased by only 1.3 percent this year compared to a five percent rise in demand.

The call for more money comes ahead of a meeting of NHS leaders and Prime Minister Theresa May, which is expected to take place next week.

It is understood May has called in bosses at NHS England, and the regulator NHS Improvement, to check on plans for this winter.

The Colchester Hospital University chief executive, Nick Hulme, said the past few months had been "as challenging as any I can remember — there has been no let up."

"Our major concern going into this winter is staff — we are 50 junior doctors short on our rotas across the hospital. Every day is a constant struggle."

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